Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Afternoon trip? A Dotterel!

Whilst working yesterday at the General Hospital I got a text from the LROS twitter news that Matthew Berriman had found a Dotterel at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland in a group of 500+ Golden Plovers.
So finishing work mid afternoon I was soon on my way down the A47 towards the soon to be closed RAF Base.
Meeting up with a group of Leicester Twitchers including John Hague, Ben Croxtall, Paul Fossey and Neil Hagley, there told me that the Dotterel had flown off with a small group of Goldies when one of the RAF finest had flown by just a few minutes earlier. Oh Bugger!!
Over the next hour or so the Plover flock got up and flew around the large ploughed fields, and then slowly the flock regrouped and finally settled in the ploughed field. This was my chance and with Matthew and Matt Mulvey scanning the flock we finally picked up the Dotterel again.
Although this wasn't a county tick as I had seen one at Eyebrook Resv in the mid 90's, it was good to see such a rare bird for VC55(only the eighth record for the county?!).
Other sightings in the area included at least two Wheatears, Red Kite, and a single Curlew.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

A Birthday treat: Osprey over your local patch!

It's my birthday today and for some reason I seem to see or find a good bird on this day?
So getting out of my car at Watermead CP North this morning, I noticed a raptor being mobbed by crows and a single Buzzard. I thought is it the Red Kite again?,but getting my bins on the bird I realised that in fact it was an Osprey migrating slowly north!! Get fuc*ing In!! I watched the bird for the next couple of minutes as it slowly flew over me and then towards Wanlip North before losing it behind some trees as it flew north.
I was straight on to the phone and let people know of the sighting and then I jumped into my car and drove it to the entrance of the park to see if I could the Osprey again?
My luck was out but I decided that Cossington Meadows might be a good idea? So I drove over to the reserve. With no more sign of the Osprey I spent the next hour or so checking out the reserve. Sightings on the reserve I saw included a ringed Little Egret (Probably the returning Groby bird?!) and a nice-looking White Wagtail on Hobley Lake.
Going back to Watermead CP I noted good numbers of Common Gulls on the move north, and a couple of Sand Martins over the Key lakes at Birstall.
With a final call at Watermead CP South more Common Gulls were seen moving north and a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls showed courtship behaviour on the island. Maybe a new breeding species for the Valley?!
As this is my last day on annual leave its back to work in the morning but the time off has been great and my Soar Valley list is progress steadily to the magic 140 target!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Soar Valley Update....A few more....

With my gull observations on the back burner for a few days, I have been concentrating on my Soar Valley year list. So over the last few days I have added Ringed Plover,Little Ringed Plover,a nice male Wheatear at Cossington, three Swallows at two sites and slightly unexpected a Raven flying over Mountsorrel Meadows LRWT today to bring my total up to 107 species.
Although it wasn't a year tick I also saw today one of the Red Kites again as it flew low over Cossington Meadows.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Mew Gull again and 100 in the Soar Valley challenge!

Here is more shots of the "probable" Mew Gull I watched again with Allen Pocock, Richard Lowe,and from Cumbria Tristan Reid(http://www.binocularface.co.uk/) yesterday.
Commenting about the gull I know believe this bird is probably a Mew Gull but "Heinei"(Siberian Common Gull) may not be ruled out?
One thing I do believe is that it's not a retarded plumaged European Common Gull (Larus canus)!!
Any way if you are interesting in Gulls I would suggest you go and see this bird as you will very surprised what it looks like, how it acts and just the general jizz of this bird and that includes supposed gull experts from Rutland and Norfolk!!

Changing the subject slightly over the last couple of days I finally hit the magic target of 100 species in the Soar Valley Challenge. This came in the form of one Sand Martin over the Sand Martin bank at Watermead CP North and a nice looking male Scaup on the Key Lakes at Watermead CP Birstall. So just under 40 species to go for the target and as I'm on annual leave again next week I expect some more species for the list?!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

More Shots of the Mew Gull at AVL!

Here's a few more shots of the "Probable" Mew Gull at Albert Village Lake I took yesterday.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Wildfowl Count: Watermead CP North 16th March 2010.

Here is a list of sightings I counted yesterday at Watermead CP North:
Great Crested Grebe:39, Cormorant:13, Grey Heron:14, Mute Swan:39, Canada Goose:72, Wigeon: 21, Gadwall:18, Teal:62, Mallard:85, Shoveler:36, Pochard:23, Tufted Duck:133, Little Grebe:7, Goosander:7, Smew:1,Moorhen: 27,Coot: 119, Water Rail:1, Kingfisher:1, Lapwing:2, Buzzard:3, RED KITE:1, Kestrel:1, Sparrowhawk:2, and one Weasel!

I also checked out Watermead South and Birstall meadows later in the day and had another year tick in the form of a Redshank feeding on the Birstall Meadows (No.98).

Saturday, 13 March 2010

More shots of the "Probable" Mew Gull.....

Here is a few more shots of the "Probable" Mew Gull at Albert Village Lake.

The bird was seen again this morning around 10.30am by Andy Forryan and Ben Croxtall, but I missed it by a few minutes!
Other sightings I saw during the morning and early afternoon included a nice looking adult Caspian Gull, one summer plumaged Med Gull, a brief adult Kittiwake and an assortment of well-known faces!?!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Maybe a first for the UK?! Mew Gull at AVL!

Following information from Richard Lowe about an unusual gull at Albert Village Lake late last week, so with my day off from work I spent most of the day at this site.
The bird in question was a Common Gull-type which showed characteristics of Mew Gull (the American version of Common Gull).Arriving around 10.15am I met up with Steve Lister and Roger Davis who were already at the site and were slowly scanning the group of gulls.
So far there had seen two corking Adult Mediterranean Gulls in the group but not yet the strange gull!
Noting the Med Gulls in the flock, I tried to take a few shots of the Med Gulls but as usual just when I was focusing on the Gulls, there flew off towards the tip!
Over the period of the morning we were joined by a few birders which included Allen Pocock and Andy Forryan and Richard Lowe, who had found the interesting gull the previous Thursday.
The Med Gulls were seen again and a coloured ringed Common Gull was also noted on the island, but it wasn't until around 2.00pm when suddenly Andy Forryan noticed an unusual Common Gull which had just landed in the flock from the direction of the tip.
Over the next minute or so we all got onto the bird and noticed how different the bird was from the nearby Common Gulls.
Firstly it was much smaller in size and appeared to be about the same size as the Black-headed Gulls. The bill on the bird looked tiny and other features seen by the group included dark markings on the tertials and the tail. The eye was dark and looked large in comparison to its head shape.
So after watching the gull for a few minutes I started to take a number of shots of the bird which you can see above, then for the next 20 minutes myself,Allen and Richard tried to take enough video footage and photos to try and put a name to the bird.
The "Probable" Mew Gull then flew off around the lake and then back onto the tip.
With the group happy on what their had seen, we phoned out the news to let people know that a bird showing characteristics of the race Larus brachyrhynchus (Mew Gull) had been at this site for the last week!
Just to put in context about this sighting, the bird we watched was most likely a first for the UK and only the second recorded sighting in the Western Palearctic!!
To finish off if you are in the area I would suggest you visit this site and hopefully the bird will appear as I've got a feeling this gull will be the start to the ID of a whole new complex of Common Gull types?!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Soar Valley update: I-spy Red Kite!!

With the day off from work it was down to the Soar Valley again.
Starting off at the Pec Pit next to Watermead CP North, I noted that at least one Redhead Smew was still around and then I spotted a Jack Snipe feeding on the back shoreline of the pit as it bobbed up and down slowly,Yes!! Year tick no.96!
Moving on to the country park it was pretty quiet on the bird front possibly due to the increase of the mad dog-walkers, model boat enthusiasts and the odd mountain biker. However checking out the water-ski pit which held the same assortment of Ducks, Geese and Swans as usual but scanning the skyline I suddenly noted two large raptors flying over the nearby shopping centre and knew straight away I was watching two Red Kites! Get In!! Year Tick no.97!!!
The Kites slowly circled over the shopping centre and then flew off in the direction of Syston and Beeby.
The Kites were not wing-tagged so possibly there were migrants but I know that a Red Kite has been recorded sporadically in the area for the last couple of years?
Also to put this sighting in context it was only the third time I have seen Red Kite in the valley!
After a quick lunch break it was then down to Wanlip North Lakes and then Cossington Meadows

More to follow in a bit...............................

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Soar Valley Update....

Just a quick note whilst down at Cossington Meadows LRWT this morning I added another year tick for the Soar Valley challenge in the shape of a Curlew flying around Hobley Pool and Tern Pool.
The only other sighting of note I had at this site was a mobile Little Egret on Tern Pool.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Cymru unlucky!

On the Friday myself, John Hague and Colin Green had a little trip down to Wales to see Wales play France in the Six Nations Rugby championship.
As usual I got a load of banter from the other two about speaking Welsh and clearing your throat but it was in all good humour!
Arriving at Cardiff mid afternoon in bright sunshine and after a good old-fashioned fish and chips meal we moved to the highly recommended Pen and Wig pub for a little bit of Welsh culture!
After a few drinks or two we left the pub around 6.30pm to soak up the atmosphere of the big game and it seemed that a lot of French supporters were in town!
Buying a couple of hats for myself and my brother Tim from the rugby village and Colin adding a pin badge to his collection we then joined the crowd of supporters and climbed the stairs to our seats in the stadium.
From the photos above you can see that our seats were in the lap of the gods but a great view of the stadium and the pitch!
On to the match and once again Wales played rubbish in the first half and gave France a twenty point advantage through two intercepted tries!!
The second half of match was totally different and Wales played some great rugby and should have scored at least four tries. But with Wales playing catch-up it wasn't too surprising that France ran out winners 26-20 in the end. The highlight of the match for me and just to late to win the game for Wales was Shane Williams outstanding try (see the link above).
Once again watching Wales was a roller-coaster of emotions for myself and the only slight problem at the end of the match was the long drive back to Leicester!